Carlo Ancelotti knows that, realistically, anything other than three points at Old Trafford would hand Manchester United an unprecedented 19th league title. The fact that Chelsea must win makes for a fascinating contest and it could be a truly brilliant game.
United’s home form remains formidable, but the Blues have won the past three league encounters with the Red Devils. Interestingly, Chelsea were the last team to beat United on their own soil – in April of last year.
The total goals market will spark some heated debates amongst spread bettors given there have been an average of 2.75 goals in the four meetings between Chelsea and United this campaign. Furthermore, ten of United’s 17 home games this term have featured more than three goals – as have all seven of their games in which they have conceded.
The battle for the Europa League is hotting up nicely, with the Merseyside rivals separated by just two points as the season draws to a crescendo. If Everton are to overhaul the two-point gap they are going to need to have a very strong finish to the season. David Moyes’ side travel to Old Trafford next and the manager will be well aware his side have not won there since 1992. In that period there have been 17 matches in which the Toffees have failed to beat the Red Devils.
Fans will most likely recall the 3-3 thriller between the two clubs at the start of the campaign, as United managed to blow a 3-1 lead heading into stoppage time. Goals have been a trait in recent contests with 13 arriving in the past three Everton and United meetings. The total goal minutes make-up for the draw at Goodison Park was 375. In the two matches last season, goal minutes made up 201 and 178.
Manchester United’s magnificent comeback against West Ham sets them up perfectly for their Champions League quarter-final at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea could only manage a 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium, but spread bettors might be aware that the hosts have a fantastic record against United. The Red Devils have not won at the Bridge in ten matches which shows just what Sir Alex Ferguson is up against on Wednesday evening.
Although United won 4-2 at Upton Park on Saturday lunchtime, it was only their third away league win of the season.
In stark contrast, United have been very strong away from home in Europe – winning all three group games to nil and picking up a goalless draw in Marseille in the second round.
The head-to-head record between the clubs in all competitions is 67 wins for United, 44 for Chelsea and 47 draws. Both sides have had fantastic success in the competition in recent years, with United reaching their fourth semi and five years and Chelsea their sixth in eight.
On Saturday afternoon Manchester United rested many of their starting XI for the visit of Crawley and almost paid the price late on. Sir Alex Ferguson had the crossbar to thank as Richard Brodie came agonisingly close to grabbing a deserved equaliser and the golden replay.
The manager’s decision to rest several players for the cup tie will be judged on United’s performance in Marseille on Wednesday evening. The Red Devils topped Group C without a defeat and also qualified with the best defensive record in the competition.
Only one goal was conceded by United in their six group games, which those keen on selling match goals will take account of. At the other end of the pitch United only managed to score seven times, with the biggest win coming in Bursaspor following a 3-0 triumph.
Interestingly, United kept three clean sheets on their travels during the group stages.